Fans of The Simpsons are really not happy. The reason: the most recent episode of the Fox animation offered a reply to critics of the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. And it’s simply “Don’t have a cow”.
This is in part a response to the documentary by Indian-American standup comic Hari Kondabolu, The Problem with Apu, which highlighted how the character – voiced by white actor Hank Azaria since 1990 – led to widespread stereotyping of south Asian people.
A scene in episode No Good Read Goes Unpunished sees the show acknowledge the controversy, with Marge trying to read Lisa a book she loved when she was a girl, before realising it is filled with racist stereotypes. Marge then revises the story to include a “cisgender girl named Clara” fighting for wild horse rescue, which Lisa says has stripped the character of her emotional journey.
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Marge replies. Turning to the camera, Lisa then says: “It’s hard to say. Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”
A photo of Apu, inscribed with the words “Don’t have a cow” is then shown on Lisa’s bedside table. The phrase is a favourite of Bart’s, meaning don’t get all upset about it.
“Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” Marge promises.
In “The Problem with Apu,” I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.
I think the fact that they put this "argument" in the mouth of Lisa's character, the character who usually champions the underdogs and is supposed to be the most thoughtful and liberal, is what makes this the most ridiculous (as in worthy of ridicule) and toothless response.
And while others defended the show, saying it stereotypes all characters…
The outrage over Apu from the Simpsons astounds me. He’s a stereotype, who on that show isn’t? The show is a satirical reflection on suburban American living. Either you’re against the show stereotyping literally everybody or your not. You can’t hang your hat only on Apu
They should and could have done an entire episode with Apu responding to @harikondabolu's movie. They wouldn't have to agree with him but they missed a huge opportunity to add in more layers and be topical. Instead, they went the lazy route and did this. https://t.co/ciUq39A4t6